Saturday, September 22, 2007

a short gripe about academic theological debates

Specifically I'm annoyed with the persistence of the imparted versus imputed righteousness debate. Anyone who can't see why this is a false dichotomy must be a moron who doesn't remember the cumulative testimony of the Bible.

Here's why--if Jesus' righteousness is imputed to us then what is the means of that imputation? If we aren't saved then the imputation is meaningless and if we are not saved except by the leading and prompting of the Spirit then how does that work? Last I checked Jesus said he would return to the Father and the Comforter would be sent (i.e. imparted). This is particularly annoying to see coming from Reformed folks reacting to Catholic teaching because the sad truth is that if righteousness is not simultaneously imparted through the work of the Spirit and imputed on the basis of faith in Christ then if we don't have the both/and we have neither.

Not that polemicists on either side tend to be interested in highlighting that rather obvious observation. Certainly there are problems if we suppose that righteousness is primarily imparted if by this we mean that righteousness is imparted on the basis of criteria that can be independently obtained by humans. If we are not dead in our sins and not slaves to sin then on what basis could Jesus ever say that he who the Son makes free is free indeed? Obviously at that point if you could choose Jesus of your own ability Jesus wouldn't need to be your savior or set you free or make you alive when you have been dead in your sins.

On the other hand, no one seriously proposes within orthodox Christian thought that once you have Jesus' righteousness imputed to you that you can do whatever you want. Jude doesn't say for nothing that those who pervert the grace of God are devoid of the Spirit, let alone that despite saving a people out of Egypt that God destroyed those among Israel who did not believe. Covenant membership in God's people does not automatically insure salvation. It's a weird and bitterly funny historical irony that some Protestants seemed to reject Romish ideas of salvation through corporate membership only to reinvent the wheel themselves. The credobaptists might have been on to something but never mind that tangent.

It seems that just as it's crazy to separate Jesus' life, death, and resurrection (per Bonhoeffer's great exposition in Ethics) it seems equally crazy to separate impartation and imputation of righteousness. Why tell believers that they should pray in the Spirit or be full of the Spirit or not quench the Spirit if there is no impartational element of righteousness? Isn't that, well, odd?

This hardly means I don't have an appreciate for solid theological debate, just that lately I've seen some debates about things that some people think really matter. And I don't disagree but I disagree with how the whole framework of disagreement happens because it seems as though Christians have a tendency to invoke false dichotomies that Scripture doesn't attest to.

My favorite one would have to be the question of whether God exists inside of time or outside of time as if God couldn't exist inside and outside of time simultaneously. I mean, one God in three persons? How hard would it be for that God, assuming He exists, to exist inside and outside of time simultaneously. To really hammer the point with a silly phrase, is it so hard for God to exist inside of time and outside of time at the same time?

But I digress and I figure it's bed time, really. I might try to blog about other stuff later on. I've watched a few Japanese cartoons that I've alluded to on another on-line avenue. I might write about some of the admittedly esoteric/academic interests I've taken in anime that have personally appealed to me. If anyone is actually up for a rambling analysis of how Eureka Seven [Psalm of the Planets] depicts child abuse I might throw that up here some time in the future ... but then I said I'd analyze Koshkin's flute/guitar sonata at some point and THAT hasn't happened yet. And I still feel like a shmuck for not writing more about the Corona Guitar Kvartet's great CD of Tamulionis.

I've just had enough stuff going on and have tried to have something like a social life that I admit I haven't written nearly as much as i kept telling myself I would. And the truth is that in addition to all this otherwise unmentioned stuff I've got some musical contacts I've very excited about lately. No details here but I am hoping to cultivate some contacts in the music scene that may eventually lead to my sonatas getting played, which would be a barrel of monkeys worth of fun. Okay, forget that with the exception of Mojo Jojo I don't like monkeys, that was a bad figure of speech and was probably a mixed metaphor.

Yeah, and that's not even counting that I haven't gotten around to doing that writing on Jude I meant to get around to. Feh, I'm not usually a goal-oriented person by temperament so it feels weird to think that I have bitten off what seems to be more than I can chew in terms of what I would like to do. It's just easier to stick with biblical literature and composing lately. Blogging about stuff is fun but I have to pace myself.